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The Plain English Attorney

I’m Moving Out Of State

“Is my trust still good?”  I get this question all the time when clients move to my state of North Carolina, or when my clients are moving to other states. The question really is “Do I need to update my estate plan?” In this video, I cover the checklist process in reviewing whether or not a revocable living trust is just fine, needs a tune-up, or should be scrapped and redone altogether. Plus, I review the documents that absolutely MUST be redone when moving to another state.

Let’s talk just a little bit about the main points of whether or not your Trust is still valid. When we’re talking about whether your trust is valid it really depends on state-by-state requirements and whether or not your particular state is going to see that it was executed with the right formalities.

Just in general if you look at the very basics of trust laws, it has to be in writing and have some type of property whether it is a dollar or it is actually real estate, and it has to have a trustee and a beneficiary. So you have these main components, it’s in writing, and here’s the property and the writing describes how it is to be handled on behalf of the beneficiary.

Now when we talk about is my Trust still good, we are talking about estate planning, we’re talking about your Revocable Living Trust, and whether or not it is still good.

In Writing

We kind of did away, I don’t want to say universally because I’m only licensed in North Carolina, but these kinds of oral trusts are not trustworthy because now it is based on somebody hearing what it was and remembering, and memory is a very funny thing. So a lot of states require it to be in writing.


It has to be signed by the person who is creating the trust. That is a pretty universal thing. And again it’s proof. You actually signed it because it’s your document. It is kind of a will substitute, I hear this a lot. Well, it’s avoiding probate.


In some states, and I don’t believe North Carolina is one of them, it has to have at least one witness or more. North Carolina doesn’t require witnesses, but for many years now when we create a new trust, we’re doing it with two witnesses. Well, why if North Carolina doesn’t require it? Because other states might and we want it to be movable if that’s what our clients so choose. If they want to move to another state, having their Will be not valid in that other state is kind of an issue for us. They spent good money and we want to make sure that it is potentially valid in other states. Now I always tell them to check it out with another attorney in that state and make sure.


Another potential requirement, whether it is a requirement or is it just a good idea, is to have it notarized. If it’s notarized and if there are ever any questions you don’t have to go and contact the witnesses because when a document like a Trust is notarized it’s as if those witnesses are swearing under oath that yes, they actually signed this. It doesn’t have to be confirmed that yes it was their signature.

Some states just keep it simple. Whatever requirements they have for a Last Will and Testament, are going to be the exact same thing for the trust because again it is a Will substitute.

Now let me talk just a bit about the original question of “Is my Trust still good?” Good might be another question. Is the Trust still doing everything you want it to do? That is an ongoing question.

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